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The Rover (1923)

af Joseph Conrad

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Set in the south of France in the waning years of the French Revolution, The Rover (1923) explores the large forces shaping the destiny of nations, but it is primarily an intimate tale of belated self-discovery and commitment. The massacre of Royalists at Toulon, Napoleon's rise to power, andAnglo-French rivalry in the Mediterranean provide the colourful backdrop for Conrad's subtle analysis of political passions and national loyalties.Returning to his native land after a lifetime of adventure as a freebooter in Eastern Seas, Peyrol, an exile in search of rest, becomes involved in an unexpected and troubling struggle for identity and allegiance. Drawn into the lives of the inhabitants of a remote farm in Provence, he comes tounderstand the meaning of friendship and love. When challenged to help thwart Nelson's blockade and frustrate English ambitions in the Mediterranean, Peyrol sets out upon a final voyage that gives shape and coherence to his life.… (mere)
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A straightforward adventure story, which, beneath the surface, explores the motivations and fears for having lived a life with meaning. Its elegiac and melancholy tone would have made it a fitting work with which Conrad might have concluded his writing career. As it was, The Rover was his last completed work before his death, with the unfinished Suspense: A Napoleonic Novel published posthumously. In form, it appears initially as a linear tale, but it is one that washes back in forth like a series of waves, gliding into transitions, taking up different perspectives, and only then returning to the origins of those points of view. It's quite a subtle effect, and one that illuminates both characters and the trails of the plot in a multi-layered fashion.

Like many of Conrad's protagonists, Peyrol, the Rover of the title, is a liminal character. His life away from the sea, albeit stretching over years and years, long enough for his hair to turn white, is but a temporary lull. He awaits his final return to the sea, a place of no fixed boundaries, no sense of permanence, no true identity, just as Peyrol's life was at Escampobar, the farmhouse where he has sought refuge after his time as a corsair in the Indian Ocean.

This is not a story of redemption. Rather, it is about the impossibility of certain men ever belonging to anything other than the tempests that drag them into adventure, literal or imaginary. Peyrol seems to mimic Conrad himself in this regard. Fitting, then, that the ultimate chapter is drawn from Conrad's own experience in narrowly escaping a coastal interceptor early in his life, as described towards the end of his autobiographical work, The Mirror of the Sea.

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1 stem PaulCornelius | Apr 12, 2020 |
This was a little hard to follow at times. I needed an atlas to figure out where things were happening, & sometimes it was stories about things that happened in the past. The other book needed (or website) was translation from French to English, since this story took place in France it has a lot of phrases I didn't know. It starts out not long after the French Revolution, deals with the after effects. It reminds me of what I've heard about the revolution in Russia. ( )
  CAFinNY | Apr 26, 2019 |
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Joseph Conradprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Fletcher, ChristopherIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Mosley, FrancisIllustratormedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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To G. Jean Aubry In Friendship This Tale of the Last Days of a French Brother of the Coast
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After entering at break of day the inner roadstead of the Port of Toulon, exchanging several loud hails with one of the guardboats of the Fleet, which directed him to where he was to take up his berth, Master-Gunner Peyrol let go of the anchor of the sea-worn and battered ship in his charge, between the arsenal and the town, in full view of the principal quay.
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Set in the south of France in the waning years of the French Revolution, The Rover (1923) explores the large forces shaping the destiny of nations, but it is primarily an intimate tale of belated self-discovery and commitment. The massacre of Royalists at Toulon, Napoleon's rise to power, andAnglo-French rivalry in the Mediterranean provide the colourful backdrop for Conrad's subtle analysis of political passions and national loyalties.Returning to his native land after a lifetime of adventure as a freebooter in Eastern Seas, Peyrol, an exile in search of rest, becomes involved in an unexpected and troubling struggle for identity and allegiance. Drawn into the lives of the inhabitants of a remote farm in Provence, he comes tounderstand the meaning of friendship and love. When challenged to help thwart Nelson's blockade and frustrate English ambitions in the Mediterranean, Peyrol sets out upon a final voyage that gives shape and coherence to his life.

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